The night's goal was to raise awareness — and ultimately money through the resale of donated purses — to fight human trafficking, an issue that commission members say has shown increasing concern in Baltimore County, and Maryland overall.
Outside 7 West Bistro Grille, people were asked to drop off new or gently used purses. Inside the restaurant, a reception was slated to include County Executive Ken Kamenetz, County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger, Chief of Police Jim Johnson and other dignitaries. In addition, 7 West Bistro Grille had pledged to donate 15 percent of its proceeds for the night.
Janice MacGregor, event chair for the commission, said the event had the goal of filling two trucks with new or gently used purses — which will later be sold to aid the work of those fighting human trafficking. The reception occurred too late for this edition of the Towson Times.
According to the Commission for Women, human trafficking has proliferated because of demand and economic situation.
The Maryland Rescue and Restore Coalition notes that federal law defines human trafficking as the recruiting, harboring, transporting, provisioning or obtaining of persons, by means of force, fraud or coercion, for labor or services or the removal of organs. If the victim is under 18, the crime is automatically considered a severe form of human trafficking.
Trafficking is considered the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, according to the coalition, second only to drug trafficking; and can take the form of forced labor — often under a threat of violence or to pay a debt — sex trafficking, child exploitation and even organ harvesting.
Funds raised through the Power of the Purse campaign will help Samaritan Women programs, including its Restoration Home that aids victims.
For more information on Power of the Purse, call 443-465-0150 or visit http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/women/pursepower.html. For more on ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking, go to http://www.marylandcoalition.org.
To report incidents of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, at 1-888-3737-888.